Indicative scenarios for future EU waste policy
These scenarios are provided to illustrate how the options set out in the Communication towards the Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste and in the consultation paper above could fit together.
The scenarios are not designed to be exhaustive, either in terms of the options included, or in terms of the combinations of options, nor do they commit the Commission services to include the scenarios or to exclude other scenarios in the final impact assessment. These scenarios should not either be understood as competing alternatives as hybrid scenarios including elements of the various indicative scenarios are equally valid.
Scenario 1: Expanding current policy
In this scenario the waste policy approach as set out in Directives such as the WEEE and End of Life Vehicles Directives is continued, with action being taken essentially on a waste stream by waste stream based approach.
New priority waste streams are identified and product directives are adopted for the corresponding products. These Directives include detailed regulatory regimes implementing producer responsibility, collection and recycling requirements and substance bans. Member States develop national waste treatment standards in the light of their local conditions. Shipments of waste tend to be restricted where waste management performance varies between Member States. Volume based waste prevention targets are adopted at EU level. Export of recyclable waste to the outside of the EU increases as the market determines flows of waste. Clarification of the waste definition and of the recovery and disposal definitions is dealt with on a case by case basis, with the European Court of Justice clarifying the cases that are brought before it.
Scenario 2: Focussing on recycling materials, common standards and eco-design
Producer responsibility is applied to materials, with targets set using LCA and CBA approaches for priority materials, for example paper, types of plastic, glass and similar materials. Eco-design policy is strengthened at EU level, through EUP style Directives and other IPP measures. IPPC is extended to all waste treatment sites above a certain threshold and inspection and control of waste treatment facilities is strengthened, thereby achieving a level playing field for recycling. Once this is achieved controls on shipments of wastes are relaxed. Flexible waste prevention targets are set, with light co-ordination on the most successful waste prevention measures at the EU level accompanied by implementation at the national, local and regional level.
Scenario 3: Focussing on economic instruments
In this scenario, taxes and other economic instruments on both the supply side and the demand side are used to correct market failures and allow the market to orientate waste treatment options.
Community action aims at setting the economic framework for waste management. Costs of landfilling (taxation plus gate fees) are harmonised throughout the EU at a level that encourages diversion from landfill to recovery options. Pay-as-you-throw schemes and user fees are promoted. Recycling and energy recovery are driven by market forces and recycling markets are actively developed, notably through demand side measures and by establishing tradable certificate systems in the longer term. Green public procurement and measures encouraging green consumer choice become systematic throughout the EU. The use of taxes and other measures to 'get the prices right' enables a free market for recovery to develop. Shipments are rarely blocked within the EU/OECD.
Scenario 4: Implementation of existing legislation only
In this scenario, there are no further legislative initiatives. The Commission focuses on implementing what already exists, and any further action is taken nationally, regionally or locally.
The main priority is implementation of current legislation. Implementation by Member States is actively monitored and the Commission plays a key role in making sure the legislation is properly enforced. The targets set in the existing Directives come into effect, but no new legislation is passed. In areas not covered by the existing Directives, pioneer Member States pull away from the rest. Variations in the standards, and hence the prices, of recycling plants lead to increased attempts to move shipments of waste. Some Member States react by restricting shipments where waste management performance varies between Member States. Waste prevention is taken forward on a national or local basis, essentially through ad hoc initiatives. Clarification of the waste definition and of the recovery and disposal definitions is dealt with on a case by case basis, with the European Court of Justice clarifying the cases that are brought before it.